Can I sue a business in which a tree branch fell on my truck and damaged it?

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Can I sue a business in which a tree branch fell on my truck and damaged it?

I was picking up a few items at a hardware store and I walked outside and witnessed a huge limb from a pine tree come crashing down on my truck. The insurance company of the hardware store denied the claim, calling it an “act of God” so they’re saying they’re off the hook and to file a claim with my car insurance company. That will cause my car insurance to go up. I feel I am being screwed because my vehicle was damaged on company property and they’re throwing their hands in the air saying “it wasn’t our fault.” What can be done?

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Accident Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The business would only be liable if they had notice or warning that this tree was a problem. For example, if the tree was obviously dying or dead; if it had clearly been damaged by wind or lightning; if large branches had recently fallen from it; etc. That would put the company on notice that there was a problem, and if they did not take action, they might be unreasonably careless, or negligent. But if there was no reason for them to take action--no warning of a hazard or risk from falling branches--then they would almost certainly not be liable. People and businesses are only liable when they are at fault--not just when bad luck happens on their property.


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